The first man to be prosecuted under France’s new catcalling law has been given a €300 fine for sexually assaulting a woman on a bus near Paris.
The man, who was not identified, slapped the woman’s bottom and made lewd remarks about her during rush hour on the bus in the suburb of Evry last Friday.
He also received a nine-month jail sentence, including a six-month suspended sentence after a separate attack on the bus driver, said Evry vice-prosecutor Marie-Celine Lawrysz.
The police were called after the driver jammed the bus doors closed to prevent the assailant from escaping.
‘The man was in his 30s and inebriated,’ Lawrysz explained. ‘He smacked the bottom of a 21-year-old woman during rush hour on the bus in Evry. The man then insulted the young woman, he called her a ‘whore’ and said she had “big boobs.’
‘The driver wanted to help the young woman and he was attacked.’
Marlene Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister who championed the new law, paid tribute to the bus driver.
‘Bravo for the bus driver’s quick-wittedness and the penalty imposed. Together we will put an end to sexist and sexual violence.’
The catcall law applies to wolf whistles and similar harassments and was approved in July. This marks the first time the new law has been used to prosecute someone.
France’s National Assembly passed the new law banning sexual or sexist comments that are ‘degrading, humiliating, intimidating, hostile or offensive.’
Harassment in public could warrant hefty, on-the-spot fines from 90 to 750 euros ($104 to $876).
A 2015 survey for the French Institute for Demographic Studies found that 20% of the female respondents reported receiving wolf whistles, 8% reported being insulted and 3% reported being followed in public spaces over a span of a year. Physical violence was reported by 1.3% of women, according to the survey, which had 27,000 respondents